WINDERMERE, Florida (Reuters) - Golf star Tiger Woods took responsibility on Sunday for crashing his SUV outside his Florida house and said his wife acted courageously to help him, but again canceled an interview with authorities investigating the incident.
The world’s top golfer said he wanted to keep details private of the accident in which his SUV crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree outside his mansion, but a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officer said charges were still pending.
The accident occurred after Woods pulled his Cadillac Escalade out of the driveway of his house at about 2:25 a.m. EST on Friday, the FHP said. He was taken to the hospital with injuries and released.
“This situation is my fault and it’s obviously embarrassing to my family and me,” Woods, 33, said on his official website (http://web.tigerwoods.com).
“I’m human and I’m not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.”
Several reports have been made by tabloid newspapers and celebrity websites claiming Woods and his wife had been arguing shortly before his car crashed outside the couple’s $2.4 million home.
When police arrived at Woods’ home on Friday shortly after the accident, the golfer was bleeding from the mouth and was “in and out of it for several minutes,” Windermere Police Chief Daniel Saylor told CNN on Friday.
Woods’ Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren, used a golf club to smash a window of his SUV to get him out, Saylor said.
In his statement on Sunday, Woods paid tribute to his wife’s actions.
“My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble,” he said. “She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.
“This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received.
“But I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be,” added Woods, who has had two young children with Nordegren since they married in 2004.
Woods’ lawyer said on Sunday a scheduled interview at the golfer’s home with Florida troopers had been canceled, the third straight day that the FHP had been denied the chance to question Woods on the accident.
“Lawyer Mark NeJame contacted the Florida Highway Patrol to inform us that he is representing Tiger Woods,” Kim Montes, a sergeant with the FHP’s Orlando division, said in a statement.
“Mark NeJame stated that the interview that was scheduled for today has been canceled. The traffic crash remains under investigation and charges are pending.”
Two FHP vehicles went to Woods’ home on Sunday to see if they could speak to the golfer but were told by NeJames he was unavailable, Montes said.
She added: “Mr. Woods’ attorney provided the troopers with Mr. Woods’ driver’s license information, registration and current proof of insurance as required by Florida Law.”
The FHP on Sunday released the tape of a 911 call made on Friday by one of Woods’ neighbors who told dispatchers: “I have someone down in front of my house.” A woman is heard in the background calling out: “What happened?”
Woods, a winner of 14 major titles, is the greatest golfer of his generation and arguably the best of all time. Forbes magazine said in September that his 2009 FedEx Cup triumph, with its $10 million prize, had made him the first billionaire athlete.
One of the world’s most recognizable figures, he has lucrative endorsement deals with Nike, AT&T, Gillette and Gatorade.
Woods is scheduled to host his annual Chevron World Challenge tournament in Thousand Oaks, California, next week. It starts on Thursday and Woods is still expected to hold a news conference on Tuesday, organizers said on Sunday.
Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Vicki Allen