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Tiger Woods

Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post/ZUMA Press

My dad golfs with some big shots and sent me this email about Tiger Woods secretly flying to Phoenix for plastic surgery—is it for real?
—Flor, Tucson

Heck, half of our own E! news team also received that mysterious, viral Tiger Woods gossip email (oddly, from their own golfer dads). You've seen it already, right?

It purports to explain all the mysteries surrounding Tiger's car crash, injuries and subsequent absence from the spotlight.

Sensing the utter urgency of this whole business, our news team deployed immediately. They have not slept. They have not partied. They have not golfed once since receiving this bizarre missive.

Here's what the email says, and what we know is true—and false:

The email says: Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, found a text from alleged mistress Rachel Uchitel on Tiger's cell phone on Thanksgiving while he was out "playing poker." (That's not code for anything; he really was, supposedly, playing poker with buds.) When he returned around midnight, she supposedly confronted him with the text, but he refused to admit anything. Nordegren allegedly struck him on the right side of the face with a 9-iron, bruising his nose and loosening two of his upper teeth. Tiger then apparently tried to flee in his car, but crashed.

The truth: Uchitel has denied to E! that she got intimate with Woods, but sources have told us otherwise. Yes, there have been texts between the two, but no one knows for sure if that's what started a fight between Tiger and his wife. And—fact—there were no eyewitnesses on the alleged fight night in question. If Elin attacked anyone with a club, only Tiger really knows for sure. One final note: Woods did have a busted face, but the police report does not suggest that he lost any teeth or appeared to have broken bones. In fact, Tiger's neighbors said there were not any unusual large cuts on his face.

When I ran this part of the email past David Mikkelson of the hoax investigation site Snopes.com, he honed in on injury details as well.

"It would have been pretty obvious from the nature of the injuries whether he sustained them in a car crash or prior to that," he notes.

Does that mean the email is a fake? Maybe, maybe not, but cuts don't lie.

The email says: Nordegren panicked after Woods crashed the car and called his agent, Mark Steinberg, who then met the couple at the hospital. A doctor on the scene apparently recommended a plastic surgeon in Phoenix who could repair the damage to Woods' face and make it look "as if nothing had happened." Tiger subsequently dashed off to Arizona. The email also claims that Tiger only returned to Orlando last Wednesday night or Thursday morning, after he recuperated from the "intense" procedures.

The truth: Tiger's agent, who probably would like to remain employed as Tiger's agent, has denied the accuracy of the email. "This is just another patently false rumor being circulated," Steinberg tells E!

Or maybe not. As E! previously reported, Woods did not return home following his visit to the hospital. E! has also found that a flight operated by NetJets, a private jet timeshare of which Woods is a member, flew from Phoenix into Tampa, which is about an hour's drive from Orlando, on the morning of Dec. 19.

Was Tiger a passenger? Not clear.

Also not clear: the plastic surgery part. Any decent plastic surgeon would never confirm a specific patient or operation to the public; it's against the law.

This particular email tidbit also got the attention of hoax hunter Mikkelson, who notes that Woods already had a pretty decent motive for lying low—the scandal itself—and didn't need another.

The neater and more detailed an email, the more suspicious we all should be, he warns, simply because they're too good to be true.

"The email neatly ties up all the details about why Tiger hasn't been in out in public, but," Mikkelson says, given how hard the surgery would be to prove, "this is one of the parts of the email that I suspect is created out of whole cloth or has been embellished."

The email says: Woods and Nordegren are now undergoing up to seven hours of marriage counseling daily and that neither party wants a divorce.

The truth: Somebody wants a divorce. E! has spotted Nordegren out and about without her wedding ring twice since the incident; plus, sources close to the pair tell the E! news team they think a divorce is "definitely" in the works and that Tiger "definitely" is not getting back with Elin. Plus, locals tell E! that Tiger hasn't been spotting coming or going from his house since Thanksgiving.

The email says: Woods is now staying in golf legend Arnold Palmer's upscale golf community, Bay Hill, in Orlando. Apparently, Woods' sports agency implored Palmer to coach him through this tough time; Palmer is seen as possibly the only person who can get through to Tiger.

The truth: That's news to staffers at Bay Hill Country Club, who tell E! they are unaware of Woods visiting since the incident.

Other stuff you should know: E! reached Jeff Bishop, the guy who supposedly wrote this mystery email. Bishop tells E! he didn't write it, but actually picked up the tale from a message board on golfwrx.com.

The poster on golfwrx.com is anonymous but goes by the handle Etsix. Etsix has insisted in subsequent posts that he or she got the information from a PGA pro.

It's all very hinky, but, urban legend expert Mikkelson says, keep an open mind.

"Things that are anonymous can be very reliable at times," he tells me. "The email was probably cobbled together from a lot of different sources, and someone wrote it into a long narrative, probably with a lot of things that are true and stuff that is not true or exaggerated."

Now. Cut and paste this story and send it back to your dad, or whoever sent you the email in the first place. Let me know what he says, 'K?

—Additional reporting by Lindsay Miller and Ken Baker


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