Tiger's mother-in-law rushed to hospital

WINDERMERE - The Tiger Woods scandal took an unexpected turn today as his mother-in-law was rushed to hospital from his Florida mansion in the dead of night complaining of stomach problems.

Fire brigade medics were dispatched to the family home near Orlando after a 911 call at 2.36am (local time). Television footage later showed Barbro Holmberg, a 57-year-old Swedish politician, being stretchered into hospital.

"She was admitted for stomach discomfort," said spokesman Dan Yates from the Health Central Hospital in the nearby town of Ocoee. "She's at her home, Tiger's home, resting and is recovering nicely."

Holmberg, a former Swedish migration minister, spent 11 hours in hospital before being released in a wheel-chair in "good condition," Yates said, refusing to comment further.

A woman thought to be Tiger's wife Elin Woods was seen visiting the hospital. Media reports suggested she may have moved out of the main house to a nearby second property owned by her husband.

The Woods residence in the exclusive golfing community of Isleworth, Windermere has been in the eye of a media storm since the 14-time major winner crashed his car nearby on November 27.

Woods would not give a statement to police about the crash and failed to dampen subsequent media speculation that it was caused by an argument with his wife over his reported affair with New York night club hostess Rachel Uchitel.

He apologised last week for "transgressions" in his family life as a magazine posted what it said was damning evidence of a 31-month affair between him and a second woman, a cocktail waitress called Jaimee Grubbs.

The magazine posted online an audio recording purported to be Woods urging Grubbs not to identify herself by name on her voicemail because he was afraid his wife was becoming suspicious and might dial her number.

"I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart," said Woods, who is still to be seen in public 11 days after the crash, having pulled out of his own charity golf tournament in California.

"Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions," he said, attempting to draw a line under a scandal that has left his squeaky clean image in tatters.

Uchitel was first linked to Woods in a report in the National Enquirer tabloid two days before he drove his car into a fire hydrant and then a tree, sustaining facial injuries that were also treated at Health Central Hospital.

Uchitel denied the affair but as a steady stream of new women emerged with claims to have bedded the golf star, she was said to be seeking a massive payout to prevent her from revealing a horde of damaging emails and messages.

After the crash, celebrity gossip websites speculated that Elin chased Woods with a golf club and smashed the rear windows of his vehicle, causing him to lose control. Woods has denied those reports.

Further pressure was heaped on Woods today when media reported he had lost a two-year-old contract with sports drink maker Gatorade in the wake of the scandal.

But Gatorade told AFP in a statement that the decision to discontinue "Gatorade Tiger Focus" had been taken several months ago.

The number of women linked to the world's number one golfer has now hit double figures as new questions have also been posed about the crash that ignited the scandal.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that a failed police request for a subpoena to obtain hospital blood test results cited a witness who claimed the golfer had been drinking and was taking Ambien, a sedative, and the pain-killer Vicodin.

Police slapped Woods with a citation for careless driving, which could lead to a small fine and four points on his license, but ended their investigation into the crash saying they did not believe drink was involved.

- AFP

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