TIME celebrities

Vonn Backs Tiger Woods’ Account of Missing Tooth

Lindsey Vonn
Tiger Woods walks in the finish area of an alpine ski in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, on Jan. 19, 2015 Armando Trovati—AP

Vonn says cameraman accidentally knocked into Woods

(CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy) — World Cup ski champion Lindsey Vonn is backing boyfriend Tiger Woods’ account of how he lost a front tooth.

One day after winning her record 63rd World Cup race, Vonn posted to her Facebook account Tuesday that she was happy Woods surprised her by coming to the race, and that she felt “terrible that his tooth got knocked out.”

“When he was in the finish area a cameraman accidentally knocked into him and took out his front tooth,” Vonn wrote. “He was still in great spirits though and didn’t complain once or ask for any special assistance or security. We were both just happy to share the moment together.”

Woods missing a tooth created a sensation Monday after the race.

Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent at Excel Sports Management, said in an email that during a crush of photographers at the awards podium, “a media member with a shoulder-mounted video camera pushed and surged toward the stage, turned and hit Tiger Woods in the mouth. Woods’ tooth was knocked out by the incident.”

It wasn’t clear if Vonn saw Woods collide with the camera.

Woods first showed up in the athletes’ area when Vonn’s father, Alan Kildow, escorted him in shortly after Vonn took the lead. The golfer then surprised Vonn and gave the skier an emotional hug.

After about 10 to 15 minutes of standing near Vonn with her family, Woods was escorted into a white tent usually reserved for measuring skis. He stayed there for nearly an hour, while the last lower-ranked skiers came down and during the podium celebration.

After the podium celebration, Woods was escorted by police to a waiting snowmobile and taken away.

Race organizers told The Associated Press they were not aware of the incident and that Woods requested extra security and a snowmobile to exit the finish area.

“I was among those who escorted him from the tent to the snowmobile and there was no such incident,” Nicola Colli, the secretary general of the race organizing committee, told The Associated Press. “When he arrived he asked for more security and we rounded up police to look after both him and Lindsey.”

Woods had been wearing a scarf with a skeleton pattern over the lower part of his face, sunglasses and a stocking cap.

The photo was taken when the scarf was lowered.

Steinberg, through a spokesman, said there would be nothing to add Tuesday.

Woods makes his 2015 debut next week in Phoenix.

TIME golf

Tiger Woods Outraged by ‘Sheer Nastiness’ of Fake Interview

Tiger Woods Dan Jenkins Fake Golf Digest Interview
Tiger Woods of the United States hits a tee shot during the first round of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on August 7, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. Warren Little—Getty Images

"A grudge-fueled piece of character assassination"

Pro golfer Tiger Woods published an editorial Tuesday slamming a parody interview in Golf Digest between him and the article’s author, sportswriter Dan Jenkins.

“Jenkins faked an interview, which fails as parody, and is really more like a grudge-fueled piece of character assassination,” Woods wrote in a piece titled “Not True, Not Funny” on The Players’ Tribune, a platform founded by Derek Jeter featuring the “unfiltered voices of professional athletes.”

Jenkins’ article, which appeared in the December issue of Golf Digest, involves targeted questions that “Woods” answers, including a question about why he doesn’t tip well, a claim made by fellow sportswriter Rick Reilly.

“All athletes know that we will be under scrutiny from the media. But this concocted article was below the belt,” Woods wrote. “Good-natured satire is one thing, but no fair-minded writer would put someone in the position of having to publicly deny that he mistreats his friends, takes pleasure in firing people, and stiffs on tips—and a lot of other slurs, too.”

Woods also made public a copy of a letter sent by his representatives to Golf Digest publisher Mark Townsend. The document demands an apology and a response to questions about the piece’s journalistic integrity.

TIME Sports

These Athletes Lost Endorsement Deals After Scandals

Nike dropping Adrian Peterson is a reminder of other athletes who lost their endorsements following scandals

Adrian Peterson is officially done with football this season. The NFL made the decision on Tuesday to suspend him after he pled no contest to charges of reckless assault following accusations that he hit his son with a switch.

Nike dropped Peterson from its endorsement roster earlier this month. You could almost call that unprecedented; Nike stood by Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods when they had scandals of their own in the past. That’s not to say Kobe and Tiger didn’t lose support from other popular brands like McDonald’s and Gatorade, however.

Here’s a look at other athletes who lost endorsement deals following scandals.

MONEY

Tiger’s Back—But Golf Is Still In a Hole

digging golf ball out of bunker
Thomas Northcut—Getty Images

Tiger Woods has finally returned from injury and is playing the British Open this weekend. But is he back in time to save his sport from irrelevancy?

Tiger Woods is back on the course at the British Open this weekend, his first major tournament in nearly a year. Though he took home the trophy the last time it was played at Royal Liverpool, in 2006, he’s facing a tougher challenge this time, starting Saturday’s round 14 shots behind leader Rory McIlroy.

A Tiger on the hunt is always good for television ratings, but even the return of golf’s highest-profile player may not be enough to blast the sport out of its current hole. Golfer numbers are down. Golf equipment sales have been tanking. The number of golf courses closing annually is supposed to dwarf the number of new courses opening for years to come. “We really don’t know what the bottom is in golf,” Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack said in a conference call in June, attempting to explain why golf gear sales have fallen off a cliff. “We anticipated softness, but instead we saw significant decline. We underestimated how significant a decline this would be.”

What accounts for golf’s present rough patch? Here are a handful of reasons, including the curious case of Woods himself.

People are too damn busy. When someone asks how you’re doing, the response among working professionals and working parents especially is probably a kneejerk “crazy busy.” Studies show that leisure time has shrunk for both sexes, and that dads are doing more work around the house, though moms still devote more time to chores and childcare than their spouses. A so-called “leisure gap” still exists between mothers and fathers, and while dads tend to enjoy an extra hour per day of free time on weekends, they’re more likely to be watching TV than hitting the links. Fathers spend an average of 2.6 hours per week participating in sports (compared to 1.4 hours for mothers), which isn’t nearly enough time to play 18 holes.

As new dad Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal put it recently, speaking for dads—all parents, really—everywhere, “It is more likely I will become the next prime minister of Belgium than it is that I will find 4½ hours on a weekend to go play golf.”

A year ago, golf groups launched a “Time for Nine” campaign, pushing the idea that, because so many people can’t find the time for 18 holes, it’s acceptable to play a mere nine holes. The problem is that it looks like people don’t have time for nine holes either, lately.

It’s elitist and too expensive. There are plenty of ways to save money on golf, including booking discounted, off-peak tee times and finding deals on equipment. So golf can be affordable.

It’s just that, by and large, the sport has a well-deserved reputation for being pricey—think $400 drivers, $250,000 club “initiation” fees, and too many gadgets to mention. The snooty factor goes hand in hand with the astronomical prices and atmosphere on the typical course. As USA Today columnist Christine Brennan cautioned recently, unless the sport figures out a way to change course, “Golf is destined to continue to hemorrhage participants and further ensure its place as a mostly-white, suburban, rich men’s niche sport with plenty of TV sponsors who make cars, write insurance and invest money.”

It’s just not cool. In 2009, Jack Nicklaus lamented, “Kids just don’t play golf any more in the United States and it is sad.”

American kids today seem to be nearly as overscheduled as their parents. And like their parents, tweens and teens probably don’t have the time to regularly play 18 holes, what with soccer practice, saxophone lessons, and coding classes to attend to. Even if kids had more time, would they want to spend it playing an “old man sport”? When iPhones and tablets and Xboxes and Instagram are drawing their attention?

Among the suggestions offered by Golf Digest to increase participation in the sport, columnist Ron Sirak recommended that the USGA should fund caddie programs, and that private clubs should give four-year “scholarships” to junior players, with free lessons and playing privileges.

It’s too difficult. Pretty much every other sport on the planet is more immediately rewarding than golf. Take a snowboard lesson in the morning, and by afternoon, you can make a few turns down the bunny trail without falling (much). Golf is renowned not only for being frustratingly difficult for beginners, but even longtime players “enjoy” it as a frustratingly difficult hobby.

“The deep appeal of golf, once you get hooked, is that it’s difficult,” John Paul Newport, golf columnist for the Wall Street Journal, told NPR in May. “Normally when you play a round of golf, you step onto the green and that’s when all the intense stress starts. You know, this tiny little hole, you have to look at putts from many ways, you hit it a few feet past and you add up strokes quickly around the green.”

Newport was discussing a new golfing option involving 15-inch cups, a system created to make the game much easier and approachable, particularly for beginners. But don’t expect to see it anytime soon. In the description to Golf Is Dying. Does Anybody Care? author Pat Gallagher points to golf’s “resistance to productive change” as a big reason why participation has slumped dramatically. “While other sports have embraced new technology and innovation with open arms, traditionalists strive to protect the game of golf and keep it exactly as they love it—even in the face of suffering courses and shrinking audiences.”

Tiger Woods. Skeptics insist that golf isn’t dying. Not by a long shot. The sport’s popularity, they say, is merely taking a natural dip after soaring to unjustified heights during the “golf bubble” brought on by the worldwide phenomenon that was Woods. After the infidelity scandals and, more recently, poor play and loads of injuries from Woods, fewer people are watching golf on TV, buying golf gear in stores, and, you know, actually going out and playing golf.

So perhaps it’s not so much that golf is losing favor with the masses today as it is that golf’s widespread popularity a decade or so ago was something of a fluke. The decline in golf, then, would basically be the return of golf’s status as a niche game. “Golf courses were overbuilt, saturating major cities and secondary markets with ridiculous golf hole per capita ratios,” golf blogger David Hill wrote in a manifesto on why the sport, in fact, isn’t dying. “Tiger’s decline from Teflon coated Superhero to mere great golfer precipitated the bursting of the golf bubble. It’s as simple as that.”

MONEY

Fore! No, Make That Five! 5 Reasons Golf Is in a Hole

digging golf ball out of bunker
Thomas Northcut—Getty Images

Golf's U.S. Open and Father's Day both take place this weekend. Chances are, dad isn't celebrating by playing golf.

Golfer numbers are down. Golf equipment sales have been tanking. The number of golf courses closing annually is supposed to dwarf the number of new courses opening for years to come. “We really don’t know what the bottom is in golf,” Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack said in a recent conference call, attempting to explain why golf gear sales have fallen off a cliff. “We anticipated softness, but instead we saw significant decline. We underestimated how significant a decline this would be.”

Insult to injury: Tiger Woods isn’t playing in the U.S. Open this weekend, and that’s sure to hurt TV ratings big time. The overarching question, though, is why the golf business has entered such a rough patch—and why it looks to remain in a sand trap, so to speak, for quite some time. Here are a handful of reasons, including the curious case of Woods himself.

People are too damn busy. When someone asks how you’re doing, the response among working professionals and working parents especially is probably a kneejerk “crazy busy.” Studies show that leisure time has shrunk for both sexes, and that dads are doing more work around the house, though moms still devote more time to chores and childcare than their spouses. A so-called “leisure gap” still exists between mothers and fathers, and while dads tend to enjoy an extra hour per day of free time on weekends, they’re more likely to be watching TV than hitting the links. Fathers spend an average of 2.6 hours per week participating in sports (compared to 1.4 hours for mothers), which isn’t nearly enough time to play 18 holes.

As new dad Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal put it recently, speaking for dads—all parents, really—everywhere, “It is more likely I will become the next prime minister of Belgium than it is that I will find 4½ hours on a weekend to go play golf.”

A year ago, golf groups launched a “Time for Nine” campaign, pushing the idea that, because so many people can’t find the time for 18 holes, it’s acceptable to play a mere nine holes. The problem is that it looks like people don’t have time for nine holes either, lately.

It’s elitist and too expensive. There are plenty of ways to save money on golf, including booking discounted, off-peak tee times and finding deals on equipment. So golf can be affordable.

It’s just that, by and large, the sport has a well-deserved reputation for being pricey—think $400 drivers, $250,000 club “initiation” fees, and too many gadgets to mention. The snooty factor goes hand in hand with the astronomical prices and atmosphere on the typical course. As USA Today columnist Christine Brennan cautioned recently, unless the sport figures out a way to change course, “Golf is destined to continue to hemorrhage participants and further ensure its place as a mostly-white, suburban, rich men’s niche sport with plenty of TV sponsors who make cars, write insurance and invest money.”

It’s just not cool. In 2009, Jack Nicklaus lamented, “Kids just don’t play golf any more in the United States and it is sad.”

American kids today seem to be nearly as overscheduled as their parents. And like their parents, tweens and teens probably don’t have the time to regularly play 18 holes, what with soccer practice, saxophone lessons, and coding classes to attend to. Even if kids had more time, would they want to spend it playing an “old man sport”? When iPhones and tablets and Xboxes and Instagram are drawing their attention?

Among the suggestions offered by Golf Digest to increase participation in the sport, columnist Ron Sirak recommended that the USGA should fund caddie programs, and that private clubs should give four-year “scholarships” to junior players, with free lessons and playing privileges.

It’s too difficult. Pretty much every other sport on the planet is more immediately rewarding than golf. Take a snowboard lesson in the morning, and by afternoon, you can make a few turns down the bunny trail without falling (much). Golf is renowned not only for being frustratingly difficult for beginners, but even longtime players “enjoy” it as a frustratingly difficult hobby.

“The deep appeal of golf, once you get hooked, is that it’s difficult,” John Paul Newport, golf columnist for the Wall Street Journal, told NPR last month. “Normally when you play a round of golf, you step onto the green and that’s when all the intense stress starts. You know, this tiny little hole, you have to look at putts from many ways, you hit it a few feet past and you add up strokes quickly around the green.”

Newport was discussing a new golfing option involving 15-inch cups, a system created to make the game much easier and approachable, particularly for beginners. But don’t expect to see it anytime soon. In the description to Golf Is Dying. Does Anybody Care? author Pat Gallagher points to golf’s “resistance to productive change” as a big reason why participation has slumped dramatically. “While other sports have embraced new technology and innovation with open arms, traditionalists strive to protect the game of golf and keep it exactly as they love it—even in the face of suffering courses and shrinking audiences.”

Tiger Woods. Skeptics insist that golf isn’t dying. Not by a long shot. The sport’s popularity, they say, is merely taking a natural dip after soaring to unjustified heights during the “golf bubble” brought on by the worldwide phenomenon that was Tiger Woods. After the infidelity scandals and, more recently, poor play and loads of injuries from Woods, fewer people are watching golf on TV, buying golf gear in stores, and, you know, actually going out and playing golf.

So perhaps it’s not so much that golf is losing favor with the masses today as it is that golf’s widespread popularity a decade or so ago was something of a fluke. The decline in golf, then, would basically be the return of golf’s status as a niche game. “Golf courses were overbuilt, saturating major cities and secondary markets with ridiculous golf hole per capita ratios,” golf blogger David Hill wrote in a manifesto on why the sport, in fact, isn’t dying. “Tiger’s decline from Teflon coated Superhero to mere great golfer precipitated the bursting of the golf bubble. It’s as simple as that.”

TIME College

This Graduation Speech by a Single Mother Will Probably Make You Cry

Elin Nordegren made some points about how much getting a degree mattered to her--she also took a few swings at her famous ex

A 34-year-old single mother of two gave a moving and often funny graduation speech after Rollins College recognized her as the 2014’s Outstanding Graduating Senior. After nine years of night classes, this student for whom English is a second language, was graduating with a psychology degree and an impressive 3.96 grade-point average. What’s so special about her? Oh nothing, she just used to be married to Mr. Tiger Woods.

Elin Nordegren, who famously divorced the disgraced golfer in 2010 after a cheating scandal, spoke passionately about the comfort education has brought in her life, calling it the one thing “no one can take away from you.” She also reflected on how crucial her fellow students were to her time at Rollins, especially when controversy in her personal life threatened to overwhelm her progress in school. Getting to see the struggles of her classmates who were also working to earn a degree in night school proved to be a humbling and worthwhile experience for Nordegren:

I was inspired by your passion to reach your goals and you fueled mine. When you told me stories about your full-time day jobs, about coming home to cook dinner for your families and about making sure your children were cared for while attending classes, you inspired me.

The ex-wife of the world’s most famous golfer also couldn’t help but take a few swings at her famous former half:

When I entered my student advisor office in the fall of 2005, I was 25 years old, I had just recently moved to America, I was married without children. Today, nine years later, I’m a proud American, and I have two beautiful children… but I’m no longer married.”

TIME Tiger Woods

Elin Nordegren Jokes About Tiger Woods Divorce in Graduation Speech

“Today, nine years later, I’m a proud American and have two beautiful children," said the former model after completing her college education. "But I’m no longer married”

Elin Nordegren, ex-wife of golfer Tiger Woods, spoke at her own college graduation on Saturday after nine years of study at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.

During that time, Nordegren gave birth to two sons, now aged 5 and 6, and dealt with the revelations of her ex-husband’s multiple infidelities—a period she referred to in her speech as the wild storm of my personal life.”

Nordegren spoke with People in 2010 right before her divorce from Woods, saying that it would be her first and last interview regarding the matter, but her reference to it during the speech still elicited laughs.

The former model graduated with a GPA of 3.96 and was honored with the Hamilton Holt Outstanding Senior Award.

Watch her speech in the video above.

TIME golf

Photos: How Tiger Woods’ Descent Into Injury Began

Woods announced Tuesday that he will miss the 2014 Masters after undergoing back surgery earlier this week. Although this is the first time he won't play in the event in 20 years, he's pushed his body to breaking point in recent years

Visit Golf.com for a complete timeline of the golfer’s worsening ailments

TIME golf

Tiger Woods Will Miss the Masters

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during the final round of the Cadillac Championship golf tournament March 9, 2014, in Doral, Fla. Lynne Sladky—AP

The golf pro will take a few weeks off after spinal surgery to repair a pinched nerve, robbing him of the chance to win a fifth championship in next week's tournament in Augusta, Ga. He'll focus instead on rehabilitating from the procedure

Tiger Woods will not be competing in this year’s Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga., and will focus instead on rehabilitating from a recent surgery, the professional golfer announced in a press release Tuesday.

“After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided, in consultation with my doctors, to have this procedure done,” Woods said in a statement.

The golfer has been plagued with injuries in recent months, according to Golf.com. On Monday, Woods underwent a successful surgery on his spine to repair a pinched nerve—likely the result, he said, of the repetitive motion in golf—that had been bothering him for months, according to a press release. Rehabilitation after the surgery is expected to take several weeks.

Woods hopes to return to playing golf sometime over the summer.

TIME golf

Tiger Woods Drops Out of Arnold Palmer Invitational Due to Back Pain

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods bows his head on the fourth green during the final round of the Cadillac Championship golf tournament on Sunday, March 9, 2014, in Doral, Fla. Woods made bogey on the hole. Lynne Sladky - AP

Persistent injury plagues golf’s top ranked player

Tiger Woods announced on Tuesday that he is not in good enough health to compete in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Tournament in Orlando this week.

The world’s number one golfer cited ongoing bouts of back pain and muscular spasms as his reason for pulling out the week’s contest, which falls within a month of the Masters in Augusta in April.

”I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won’t be able to play in his tournament this year,” wrote Woods in a post on his website.

”I would like to express my regrets to the Orlando fans, the volunteers, the tournament staff and the sponsors for having to miss the event.”

Just three weeks ago, Woods dropped out of the Honda Classic after completing 13 holes in the final round due to intense pain in his lower back.

[AP]

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