Tiger Woods spent the day snorkelling off the coast of Barbados, as police and private guards patrolled the public beach of an exclusive resort where islanders kept talking of an imminent wedding to Swedish model Elin Nordegren.
Five hundred red roses were being shipped for the event, one source said.
A senior police official said it was no secret that the 28-year-old golfer was on Barbados, but Barbadians were protecting the privacy of their famous guest. Few would give details, and none would be quoted by name.
Newspapers in Barbados and Ireland have reported that the golfer will marry his fiancee early this week at the Sandy Lane resort on the Caribbean island’s west coast.
The Barbados Daily Nation ran a front-page photograph of a yacht anchored off St James that is rumoured to have the 24-year-old Nordegren and guests aboard.
Oprah Winfrey and former basketball star Charles Barkley were on the list of guests attending the ceremony, according to one source who said he was familiar with the marriage plans.
Nordegren’s mother, Barbro Holmberg – who is Sweden’s migration minister - would not comment on when the wedding will take place, her press secretary Odd Guteland said. But Holmberg “is not in Stockholm this week, and will not be back until Monday”.
Asked if she was in Barbados, Guteland said: “I don’t know where she is right now.”
Barbadian radio stations ran reports saying the wedding would take place this afternoon.
The only helicopter charter company on the island said it was booked for the next two days amid reports that wedding organisers planned to take aerial shots of the ceremony – and prevent any journalists trying to record the event.
Woods was seen early yesterday boarding a small boat with snorkelling equipment at a beach near Sandy Lane.
Nordegren was working as a nanny for Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik when she met Woods three years ago at the British Open.
Woods asked Nordegren to marry him last December during a sunset walk at a game reserve in South Africa, where he was playing in the Presidents Cup.
Woods has just finished playing in the American Express Championship at the Mount Juliet Golf Course in Thomastown, Ireland. He finished ninth, and slipped to number three in the world for the first time since May 1999.
In Ireland on Sunday, Woods declined to confirm the wedding reports, and when asked about a Caribbean holiday said only: “I’m ready to go diving. I’m ready to hop in that water and shoot some fish.”
“All I can say is that I’m getting married in the future. I’ve narrowed it down to that,” Woods said. “I think you guys would be the last people I’d ever tell.”
The Sandy Lane resort was fully booked until Friday its room rates this time of year range from €580 to €6,500 a night.
It is owned by Irishmen JP McManus and Dermot Desmond, who are reportedly friends of Woods.
Resort managers have said previously that they hoped to invite Woods to strike the first ball at the new Green Monkey golf course, which has yet to officially open.