WHAT promised to be a kiss and tell press conference by the first woman named in the Tiger Woods mistress scandal was abruptly cancelled yesterday amid reports the golfer had made it worth her while to keep silent.
The US tabloids reported the Woods’s camp had been working hard to keep nightclub hostess Rachel Uchitel from talking. One media source claimed a $1million (€665,000) payoff was discussed.
Uchitel was first named by the National Enquirer as his mistress, which she later denied in an interview with The New York Post.
Speculation has mounted about the golfer’s personal life since he crashed his car into a fire hydrant and tree outside his home in Florida in the early hours of last Friday morning.
Ms Uchitel’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, was expected to make a statement about her client’s relationship with Woods, but a spokeswoman for her office said it was cancelled “due to unforeseen circumstances. There will be no further statements on the matter.”
Since the alleged affair was reported in the National Enquirer, a second woman went public with claims of a fling with Woods and then a third was linked to the billionaire golfer.
Earlier, Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik, who introduced Woods to his wife, Elin Nordegren, said he thought the world number one “was a better guy than he is”.
Parnevik said he owed Woods’s wife an apology as it was he who introduced the American to her while she was working as his au pair in 2001.
On Wednesday, Woods himself apologised for letting his family down in a statement that alluded to “personal sins” and the forced exposure of “intimate details” of his life.
It came as US Weekly reported that a Los Angeles cocktail waitress claimed she had a 31-month affair with Woods. The magazine released what it said was a voicemail, provided by waitress Jaimee Grubbs, that a man who identified himself as Tiger left on her phone three days before his accident.
Ms Grubbs told the magazine she met Woods at a Las Vegas nightclub the week after the 2007 Masters – two months before Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, 29, gave birth to their first child.
In the voicemail released by the magazine, a man says to Grubbs: “Hey, it’s, uh, it’s Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favour.
“Um, can you please, uh, take your name off your phone. My wife went through my phone. And, uh, may be calling you.
“If you can, please take your name off that and, um, and what do you call it just have it as a number on the voicemail, just have it as your telephone number. That’s it, okay. You gotta do this for me. Huge. Quickly. All right. Bye.”
US gossip websites suggested the reports of an affair may have led to a domestic dispute between Woods and his wife, leading up to the crash.
Yesterday, Woods, who was cited for careless driving said he was “dealing with my behaviour and personal failings behind closed doors” and added: “The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious,” he said.
Woods has been able to count on some support from his playing colleagues, with fellow US golfer Anthony Kim backing him to put his personal issues to one side when he returns to action in the new year.
Kim said: “If you know Tiger, you know that the guy does some pretty amazing things. You never know. He could very well come out of this a better golfer and a better man.”
Kim is competing this week at the Chevron World Challenge in California, an event promoted by 14-time major winner Woods, who withdrew from the field following his weekend crash.
“Whatever the problems may be and all the speculation is, you wish the best for him,” Kim said.
“I know he’s done so much for me personally. I’m just hoping and wishing the best for him. I’m not saying he did or didn’t do anything, but everyone makes mistakes, and he’s human like everyone else.”
Kim, 24, added: “Everyone has their bad days, and everyone struggles sometimes. Everyone makes mistakes. You have to understand that if he did or didn’t make a mistake that he’s a human being and he should be treated like one.”
PR guru Max Clifford is certain Woods’s earning potential will not be affected in the long term.
“The overview in terms of Tiger Woods, in a year’s time, provided he’s still playing golf the way he has for many, many years, he’ll still be doing just as much in terms of sponsorship and earning just as much money.”
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