Tiger not yet out of the woods

One week after top-ranked American golf star Tiger Woods admitted cheating on his Swedish model wife, new reports kept a media firestorm swirling around the billionaire athlete for a fourth week in a row.

Tiger reportedly made a deal with Enquirer magazine in 2007 in exchange for suppressing photos revealing his infidelity. Meanwhile, former Swedish model Elin Woods is said to have turned to a high-powered Hollywood divorce attorney.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the National Enquirer kept quiet about a Woods affair in 2007 in exchange for the 14-time major champion speaking with sister publication Men’s Fitness for a cover story.

Under terms of the deal, the Enquirer would not publish photographs and a story on Woods having an extra-marital affair and Woods agreed to a cover and photo spread in Men’s Fitness, the Journal reported, citing unnamed sources.

American Media Inc., which owns both publications, denied such a deal took place in a letter to the Journal while Woods agent Mark Steinberg had no comment to the newspaper.

Elin Woods has hired 82-year-old Sorrell Trope, a noted divorce attorney who has represented such stars as Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Nicolas Cage, Britney Spears and Cary Grant in a 60-year career, the New York Post reported.

Trope’s reputation as a tough dealmaker could help the former Swedish model, who reportedly signed a pre-nuptial agreement with Woods but might be in line for even greater riches given her humiliations of the past weeks.

At least 14 women have claimed – or been said to have had – affairs with Woods, who has commented only in statements on his websites and said nothing about the extent of his admitted infidelity.

Two days after an Enquirer report on Woods’s affair with showclub hostess Rachel Uchitel, he struck a tree and hydrant in an early morning drive, purportedly one caused by a row between him and Elin.

Mindy Lawton, a Florida restaurant employee who has claimed a liaison with Woods, was in the pictures not published by the Enquirer, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Woods was photographed meeting Lawton in a church parking lot near the home he shared with Elin, according to the report, which added that the source told the newspaper the pictures were poorly lit and details were tough to make out.

But the mere threat of publication made by the Enquirer to representatives of Woods was enough for them to suggest the Men’s Fitness deal, the report said.

Woods at the time had a deal with Golf Digest for up to one million dollars in annual donations to his foundation in exchange for Woods limiting appearances in other magazines and writing a techniques column, it said.

The scrambling by Woods to buy silence from those who could expose details of his misdeeds is not yet over, according to celebrity website TMZ.

Woods is doing all that he can to save his marriage, including making calls behind-the-scenes to women with whom he had affairs about possible deals, it said. Prior reports had Woods paying Uchitel to remain silent.

Concerns had also been raised about Woods being aided in his recovery from knee surgery by Canadian doctor Anthony Galea, who faces charges in Canada involving a banned drug and is linked to performance-enhancing substances.

Galea did nothing in helping Woods to violate doping rules, the doctor’s lawyer said Friday in Toronto.

“He had no links to Tiger Woods (or) any other athletes,” attorney Brian Greenspan said.

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Stenson to challenge Tiger for top spot in golf

Sweden's Henrik Stenson has set his sights on overtaking Tiger Woods as the world's number one golfer following a breakthrough season last year in which he climbed to the number three spot.

Stenson to challenge Tiger for top spot in golf

Stenson saw his bank balance rise by more than $20 million last season with a string of wins that propelled him to third place in the world rankings.

Now, he has the small matter of becoming the world number one for the first time in his sights.

At his press conference on Tuesday the cool Swede made no secret about his ambition to become the top-ranked player, saying it would be a "nice thing" if that happens.

"I think I'm in a position in the world rankings that if I really keep on playing well, I will have a chance to possibly, first, overtake Adam (Scott) and then maybe challenge Tiger (Woods) for the number one spot," Stenson said ahead of the Qatar Masters beginning Wednesday.

"I'm trying to focus on my stuff and then we'll see how far it takes us.

"But the chance is obviously there and it would be a nice thing to have on the CV when we put the clubs in the closet one day – that we've held the number one spot at some time, and if that doesn't happen, I would be happy to go for number two as of now."

Stenson, however, understands the perils of obsessing about the world number one spot, saying things always don't go according to plan.

"One part is down to what I do. If I can keep my form going and playing good golf, and it's those elements that we can't control what the other guys are doing, and might even be somebody from behind going on a really hot streak and overtaking everybody."

Stenson, who won the Qatar Masters in 2006 and has finished in second position thrice, considers the Doha Golf Club course a "good hunting ground" and is determined to make the most of his experience, this being his 14th appearance in the event.

After missing the cut in Abu Dhabi last week, Stenson feels he is getting his confidence back.

"The game's heading in the right direction for sure. It was a bit rusty last week, and I'd say today was as good as I've hit it this side of Christmas, anyway.

"So yeah, I'm looking forward to the week. I'm sure it's going to be fairly similar to what we had here in previous years with a bit of wind, and I think the course is in good condition where the trick is always to keep the ball below the hole on the greens, because downhill, downwind and downgrain, they are lightning and uphill you can be aggressive."

Two PGA Tour victories in September last year earned Stenson the FedEx Cup, before he secured the Race to Dubai by winning The European Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship in November.