Explicit emails and pills in Tiger's tale

By Jonathan Milne

The tacit admission that he had been playing away from home had already placed a cloud over Tiger Woods' marriage.

And now, explosive but unconfirmed reports linking him to prescription drugs-fuelled sex could threaten his US$1 billion ($1.4bn) golfing career and endorsements from companies such as Nike, Gatorade and Gillette.

Last night, according to TMZ.com, an Orlando cocktail waitress had hired attorney Michael O'Quinn, claiming she had a two-year affair with Woods from when she was 20.

As his personal life disintegrated, Woods pulled out of his own invitational tournament.

Woods' caddie for the past 10 years, Aucklander Steve Williams, returned home this week, and last night raced in the saloon car grand prix at Upper Hutt's Te Marua Speedway.

While refusing to discuss details of Woods' personal life, Williams confirmed that Woods did confide in him. "That's what friends are for," he said. "You support them through good and bad. It's like marriage, really."

Reports that Woods was having an affair reportedly drove his wife Elin Nordegren into a fury that ended with him crashing his Cadillac SUV at 2.25am last weekend, while she brandished a golf club.

Williams said he had not been disappointed when Woods called him to pull out of the year's final tournament, even though it meant losing his share of any winnings.

"Golf is not about money," Williams said. "I like to caddie to win tournaments."

He and Woods would reunite for the first tournament of the new year, at Torrey Pines in California, he said.

Williams is one of the few people that Woods has spoken to. But the women Woods is alleged to have had affairs with have been far more talkative. According to RadarOnline, 34-year-old Rachel Uchitel told friends she and the golf star took the sleeping pill Ambien before having sex.

Publicly, the New York nightclub promoter has denied having sex with Woods. But there were reports yesterday that one of the golfer's closest friends, Bryon Bell, had paid for her air tickets to Melbourne this year, where she and Woods stayed at the same hotel.

In a leaked email to Uchitel, Woods says he dreamed of watching her have sex with other men.

"Some part of me thinks you would like that," he wrote, according to US Weekly. "But now I can't get back to sleep. ... Need an Ambien."

The rumours of prescription drug abuse will worry his sponsors.

Uchitel earlier cancelled a press conference after pleas from his representatives and claims she had been paid more than US$1m hush money.

Another woman who says she had an affair with him, 24-year-old Las Vegas cocktail waitress Jaimee Grubbs, worked at a marijuana store, Organic Remedies. There have been no allegations that Woods used marijuana.

Nonetheless, Daily Beast website investigative reporter Gerald Posner asked: "Which prescription pills was he on? Any psychotropic drugs could be a body blow for the superstar whose charm is in large part his easy, all-American, trouble-free persona."

- HERALD ON SUNDAY, ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AGENCIES

- Herald on Sunday

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