Tiger Woods thanks staff, fans

THOUSAND OAKS, California - Tiger Woods, absent from his annual Chevron World Challenge amid a storm of scandal, issued a statement today thanking staff, fans and sponsors for keeping the charity tournament afloat.

Woods acknowledged sponsors for their contribution to the Tiger Woods Foundation, which offers educational resources to disadvantaged children.

He thanked foundation staff and volunteers "who collectively produce this first-class golf tournament."

"I am so grateful to them for their efforts, and I am sincerely sorry I was unable to fulfill my duties as host and player in this important event," Woods said in a statement posted on his website.

Woods' latest website statement made no mention of the circumstances surrounding his withdrawal from the event last week, when he said injuries received in a mysterious one-car crash the previous Friday would prevent him from travelling from Florida.

Reports of the crash were quickly enmeshed in tabloid reports of marital infidelity, an explosion of speculation on the state of Woods's marriage and, finally, a website statement admission from Woods of "transgressions" in his personal life.

PGA Championship titleholder Yang Yong-Eun of South Korea and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell shared the lead heading into today's final round. McDowell was a late replacement for Woods in the field.

"Lastly, I'd like to thank our fans for continuing to support us," Woods said. "Like them, I am extremely dedicated to this tournament, to my Foundation and the millions of young lives we serve. Thank you all for your support."

Woods did not compete in last year's Challenge due to a knee injury but was at the course and very much in evidence as tournament host.


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