Fact Check

Tiger Woods' Plastic Surgery

The real story of Tiger Woods' auto accident?

Published Dec 30, 2009

Claim:   E-mailed account tells the real story of Tiger Woods' auto accident.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, December 2009]

As you all know Tiger's agent is Mark Steinberg. I have a Member who lives 10 houses down from Tiger in Isleworth. My Member plays golf with and is a good friend of an IMG insider who got the following information directly from Steinberg and related it to me. I was told that the following is up to date as of yesterday.

On Thanksgiving Day, after he and Elin and the family had Turkey Dinner, Tiger spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch watching football and texting Rachel. After he received and sent text message back and forth to Rachel, he would clear his message box to destroy the evidence. At some point during the afternoon texting session, one of Tiger's Orlando buds called him to see if he wanted to get together at the Clubhouse to play poker with the guys. Tiger agreed and left the house around 7:30 to go play poker. He left behind his cell phone.... and one message he had forgot to delete from Rachel.

When Tiger returned home around 11:30 -12 that night, Elin confronted him about the text message she had found on his phone. A heated discussion ensued. According to what I was told, there was more "incriminating evidence" than just the text message (i.e. photos). Tiger told Elin that she was reading too much in to it, and that she did not know the whole story. Tiger went upstairs to change into his gym shorts and t-shirt, came back downstairs were Elin confronted him, again. Tiger gave her the same story as before and sat down in a chair in the living room.

Elin sat across from him. She urged Tiger to just come clean. Tiger stuck to his story and denied everything. At one point Tiger turned away to look at the TV, and as he turned back, Elin, enraged, hit him on the right side of the face with the head of a 9-iron. When she struck Tiger, she put a huge gash in the right side of his face next to his nose (causing his nose to bruise some), virtually knocked out two of his upper teeth, and broke the bone on the upper right side.

Tiger, scared as hell, ran down the hallway, out of the house to the garage (explaining why he had on no shoes) followed by Elin swinging the golf club. Tiger hopped into the Escalade and tried to leave. As we know Elin knocked out the windows in the Escalade in the process as well as doing considerable damage in the hallway.

When Tiger crashed, Elin panicked and was not sure what to tell the police (which is why there are two conflicting stories from her). When this happened, Elin immediately called Mark Steinberg to tell him what happened, and Mark told Elin to tell him what hospital they were going to, and he would meet them there.

If you remember FHP kept showing up at Isleworth to talk to Tiger, and was told by another FL attorney, hired by Tiger for PR reasons, that Tiger was not ready to talk. This is why.

As amazing as it may seem, Tiger was in Phoenix . Tiger was originally transported to the hospital in Orlando with Elin in the ambulance where they were met by Mr. Steinberg. Tiger was taken in for X-Rays, etc. to assess the damage. The doctors told Steinberg there was not much they could do to repair the teeth and the gash, but did know a cosmetic dentist and plastic surgeon in Phoenix who could make Tiger look as if nothing happened. Tiger told Steinberg to get the jet ready and he and Steinberg flew to Phoenix to see the surgeon. The resulting procedures were more intense than what everyone had expected which meant Tiger was in PHX longer than expected. Tiger and Steinberg did not arrive back in Orlando until either late last Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.

Since arriving back in Orlando, Tiger and Elin have been in intense marriage conseling sessions (up to 6 to 7 hours a day) every day! Both Tiger and Elin have told the counselors they love each other, and want to make the marriage work. The reports you are reading on TMZ and RadarOnline are about 30% accurate at best according to Mark.

Tiger has not returned to his house at Isleworth since the day of the accident except for the therapy sessions. IMG has enlisted the assistance of one of its most recognized sports figures, and Tiger has taken up residence in his neighborhood - Bay Hill. Because of the high regard in which Tiger holds him and based on his public persona when he was at the height of his game, the person IMG contacted was Arnold Palmer. He has agreed to intervene with Tiger. IMG is convinced that if anyone can get through to Tiger, Mr. Palmer may be the only person who can.

As to other rumors, my source claims that the moving trucks being shown on TMZ and RadarOnline are moving out pictures and furniture which was damaged during their Thanksgiving Day argument - not because of Elin moving out. Yes, Elin has retained a divorce attorney, but has not filed any papers. As of yesterday, she had no intention on doing so.

Tiger has not made any public appearances or statements due to the surgery and plastic surgery he had in PHX. It will be about another month if not more before he gets in front of a camera. Yes, Tiger is hitting golf balls late at night at Bay Hill out of their teaching center (which is equipped with lights). In regards to Tiger's boat being in Palm Beach this week, along with Rachel; that part is true. However, Tiger is not on the boat, is not in Palm Beach , and Rachel is not on the boat. Her parents live 6 blocks from where the boat is, but that is it.

That is as up to date as I have........


Origins:   A good deal of mystery still surrounds golfer Tiger Woods' car wreck in the wee hours on the day after Thanksgiving 2009 and subsequent revelations of his romantic links to many different women. What triggered that early morning incident? Had his wife found out about his affairs, and if so, how? Why did Woods get into his SUV and start driving at 2:00 AM, then run into a fire hydrant and a tree? Was he merely trying to escape an argument with his wife, or was he fleeing from someone who was physically attacking him? Did his wife Elin (as initially claimed in press reports) really break out a window of his SUV with a golf club to help rescue him after his crash, or had she precipitated the wreck by bashing at the car while he was driving it? Is there any chance the Woods will salvage their marriage, or is it all over save for the paperwork? What have Tiger and Elin been doing and thinking (together and separately) since the scandal broke?

These questions remain unanswered, in large part because neither participant has yet publicly spoken about what has transpired, and both have remained out of the public eye ever since. Tiger Woods initially put off speaking to Florida law enforcement officials investigating his automobile accident, hasn't issued any statements other than making an initial request for privacy and then posting a few general statements on his web site, and has since announced that he is

withdrawing from golf. And, seemingly, he has withdrawn from the world at large, becoming (for the time being) one of the world's most famous recluses.

When information is unavailable, rumor and gossip fill the void, and hence the above-quoted account (initially posted to a forum on the golfwrx.com web site by a participant who purportedly obtained the information from a "PGA pro") has been circulating widely on the Internet since mid-December. This narrative is particularly intriguing because it neatly fills in the framework of what little the public knows with details that are both logically consistent and not altogether implausible. Of course, what everyone wants to know is whether this account (or any portion of it) is actually true, or whether it's simply more unconfirmed rumor and gossip.

At this point, with hard information lacking, we can only engage in conjecture, and the first aspect of speculation is the account's purported origins: in true urban legend-like fashion, it's an anonymous account based on information supposedly obtained from someone who plays golf with an "insider" who knows Tiger Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg (who presumably heard it from his client). A long chain of transmission doesn't necessarily invalidate the account, but we note that (as exemplified by the children's game of "telephone") as information becomes further removed from its original source and passes through more hands it generally becomes less reliable. We also note that some of the events described took place in private, and thus only the participants themselves (i.e., Tiger and Elin Woods) could attest to what actually happened. This means that some of the information presented above could have reached the public only if one of the Woods disclosed it to a confidant, who then blabbed it to others. (A tendency to blab is not a quality one typically looks for in a confidant, especially one who serves in a professional capacity such as an agent, and Steinberg said the e-mail was "just another patently false rumor being circulated.") Additionally, even information obtained directly from the participants themselves may not be accurate, as parties engaged in adversarial situations will often shade their versions of events to favor themselves and cast the other party in a bad light.

Gerald Posner, writing for the Daily Beast, reported that "two sources who know Elin Nordegren" had confirmed (on conditions of anonymity) an account of the night Tiger crashed his SUV that included the following points:

  • Just before Tiger’s affair with Rachel Uchitel was reported in the National Enquirer, he put Uchitel on the phone with his wife for a half-hour, so she could convince Elin the relationship was platonic.
  • Elin confirmed her lingering suspicions about Tiger’s affair with Uchitel by impersonating her husband in text messages with Uchitel, prompting the rage that led to Woods fleeing his house.
  • Tiger had taken the sedative Ambien that night, and was in a stupor when Elin woke him following her sting operation on Uchitel.
  • After his wife's wakeup, Tiger sent Uchitel a panicky text warning her that Elin had discovered the affair and implying that divorce was imminent. Elin quickly found this text as well, which precipitated her chasing him out of the house with a golf club.
  • Tiger did not immediately return home when he was released from the hospital, likely explaining why Elin did not accede to much-publicized requests from visiting police officers to chat with Woods.

Our best guess is that this account is a mixture of truth, falsity, exaggeration, and speculation, and accurately sorting out which parts are which will be possible only when the parties involved begin talking. But even in the absence of confessions, some have found a few of the details to be questionable, such as the claim that Elin smacked her husband in the face with a 9-iron, loosening some of his teeth and breaking a bone in his face, an injury so serious that it presumably caused him to wreck his car as he tried to flee and led him to fly off to Phoenix for plastic surgery (with his subsequent withdrawal from public life being explained by his need to hide the tell-tale signs of surgery).

According to Orlando, Florida, TV station WESH, Tiger Woods was still in Florida when troopers from the state's Highway Patrol unit (FHP) met with him several days after the accident, and the only injury they reporting seeing on his head or face was a superficial one:

The Florida Highway Patrol met with Tiger Woods in Orlando several days after his crash in Isleworth and said he only had "a fat lip," FHP told WESH.

FHP spokeswoman Kim Montes said Woods met with troopers at an undisclosed location on Dec. 1 to deliver his ticket and see if Woods had any injuries that might not be consistent with his traffic accident.

Montes said troopers only noted "a fat lip" and no other facial injuries — and no reason to believe he was the victim of domestic violence.

On the day Tiger Woods was issued and signed a traffic ticket for careless driving, the Florida Highway Patrol confirms two captains and a trooper met in person with Woods and his attorney Mark NeJame.

Montes said that meeting happened "in Orlando at an undisclosed location."

The meeting came three days after Woods crashed into a curb, fire hydrant and tree outside his Isleworth home in Orange County. The crash set off a flurry of media coverage, with several women coming forward claiming to be Woods' mistresses.

Even if his injuries were more extensive, would Tiger Woods have needed to fly all the way across the United States to find a dentist and plastic surgeon capable of repairing a few loose teeth and a "gash" on his face? And medical confidentiality notwithstanding, could Woods really have secretly flown cross-county and undergone prolonged medical treatment at a time when law enforcement and the nation's press were clamoring to find and speak with him, all without anyone's gleaning or leaking a word of his whereabouts?

All in all, Tiger Woods already has plenty of reasons to want to avoid facing the public right now, even without a rumored need to recover from plastic surgery.

Update:   In January 2010, news accounts reported that Tiger Woods had been seen at
the Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. (He has also been reported as undergoing treatment at
The Meadows addiction treatment center in Wickenburg, Arizona.)

Update:   In his public statement of 19 February 2010, Tiger Woods said that "for 45 days from the end of December [2009] to early February [2010] he was "in inpatient therapy receiving guidance," but he did not specify where the treatment was taking place. He also emphatically denied rumors that his wife had physically attacked him:

I have a lot to atone for, but there is one issue I really want to discuss. Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage, ever.

Last updated:   19 February 2010


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    The New York Times.   28 November 2009.

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    28 November 2009.

    Vancouver Sun.   "Tiger Woods 9-Iron-to-the-Face Story Called Internet Hoax."

    30 December 2009.

    WESH-TV [Orlando].   "FHP Says Tiger Woods Only Had 'Fat Lip'"

    30 December 2009.

    WSPA-TV [Spartanburg, SC].   "Tiger Woods in Mississippi Rehab Center."

    15 January 2010.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.