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DOUGLAS LOWE ON TUESDAY: Heard the one about . . . ? There’s no respite for beleaguered Woods

THE scorers have the number of alleged off-the-course birdies of Tiger Woods up to eight, a figure that seems to be rising daily.

Perhaps by next week it will conclude at an appropriate 18, the world No.1 can fill in a scorecard, sign it and have it attested by tmz.com, or National Enquirer, deal with it and move on.

In the history of philandering it is shaping up as another record.

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Woods is not short of advice. He should sack his management team, caddie, lawyers, minders, take up the offer of pouring out his heart on the Oprah Winfrey show – his fee might cover some of the alleged hush money paid to his alleged mistresses – and have a long consultation with his one true and trusted friend, Mark O’Meara.

There are views, moreover, that he should present himself more graciously on the course and stop throwing clubs, especially into the crowd, spitting, swearing and breaking wind lest the younger generation follow his example. Hands up those golfers who have never done any of these things.

For sure, this meltdown is happening at the wrong time of year for Woods. Another major triumph would help to divert attention but there is four months to go before the Masters. There, we’re back to sport for a brief moment, but for the time being there is no escape.

During a break in the Houston Texans versus Jacksonville Jaguars American football game in Sunday, the crowds were entertained by a tiger mascot dressed in red polo shirt and Nike cap being chased around the field by a blonde brandishing an oversize golf club.

The jokes keep coming. Q: What is the difference between a wife and a golf course? A: Tiger would never dream of cheating on a golf course.

Speculation is that it could be February before he returns to scoring on the course at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, San Diego. That is where he won his 14th and last major last year, the US Open. Remember? He did it on a left leg that was fractured and on knee with ligaments in such bad shape that he could hear his bones grinding together while he was swinging.

It was the ultimate mind-over-matter triumph and yet he couldn’t make it to his own Chevron World Challenge last week because of injuries sustained in that low-speed crash into a fire hydrant and tree which seem to amount to a knock to the head, a fat lip and probably most tellingly an ego with multiple fractures.

Who knows how it will all affect his golf, but one theory is that he will store up all the many slights that have come his way, justified or not, and in the sanctuary that he will find on the course he will use them as motivation for a forthcoming major championship season that looks as if it has been designed with Woods in mind.

First up at is Augusta National, where he has won the Masters four times. Then the US Open is back at Pebble Beach, where he left the field trailing 15 shots in his wake in his triumph in 2000. The Open Championship is over the Old Course at St Andrews, where he was victorious the last two times it was played there in 2000 and 2005.

With these three notionally in the bag and with the media frenzy back 100% on golf, he will head to Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, in his bid to complete the calendar-year grand slam at the US PGA Championship. It is a course, incidentally, that has connections with St Andrews because it is owned by Herb Kohler, who is progressively buying up the auld grey toon, most recently Hamilton Hall, the building behind the 18th green.

The world may never be able to look at Woods in the same way again and the private life that he has sought so obsessively to protect may change forever, but he is still the world No.1 and eventually we will be back to counting the birdies he has scored on the course and not off it. Watch out, world.

AND ANOTHER THING

I hear that VisitScotland are in talks with Catriona Matthew’s new IMG management to have her restored as an ambassador, and rightly so.

Matthew, whose victory in the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham 11 weeks after giving birth to her second daughter is increasingly being recognised as the outstanding Scottish sporting achievement of the year, had been dropped earlier in the year, leaving Sam Torrance as the sole ambassador.

The 40-year-old is currently in the Middle East for the Dubai Ladies Masters. After that she will take a break at home in North Berwick before the ever more global LPGA Tour opens up in Brazil, Hawaii, Thailand, Singapore and Mexico before reaching mainland USA in March.

Combining that kind of itinerary together with her new standing in world golf, Scotland could hardly have a better sporting envoy.

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