Tiger: Reserve chief 'cheapened' experience

Originally Published: December 2, 2003
ESPN.com news services

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Tiger Woods criticized the founder of a South African game reserve Tuesday for alerting newspapers to his engagement to Elin Nordegren and taking photos to promote the reserve's Web site.

From Tiger's Web site ...
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to South Africa for the Presidents Cup, with one exception: I was betrayed by Adrian Gardiner, founder of the Shamwari Game Reserve. He promised to protect my privacy during a four-day stay with friends, but went back on his word, not only alerting the newspapers about my engagement to Elin Nordegren, but inviting the mayor and local school children to the airport when we departed.

Even worse, he took pictures at the reserve to promote his website, and had us detained in a holding cell at the airport so we would pose for more photos with the mayor. Saying we were uncomfortable and totally shocked is an understatement.

In a word, I'm disgusted about the way he handled things. I had been planning to ask Elin to marry me for months and wanted to do it in a private, unique atmosphere. It was such a great moment in our lives, and he cheapened the experience because he was so self-serving. Needless to say, we will never go back.
-- From Tigerwoods.com.

''It was such a great moment in our lives, and he cheapened the experience because he was so self-serving,'' Woods said in the monthly newsletter he e-mails to fans. ''The only positive out of the whole trip is that Elin didn't say no.''

Woods said Gardiner promised to protect the golfer's privacy during a four-day stay the week after the Presidents Cup.

Along with telling the media about his Nov. 25 engagement, Woods said Gardiner invited the mayor and local school children to the airport, then detained Woods and Nordegren so they could pose for pictures with the mayor.

''Saying we were uncomfortable and totally shocked is an understatement,'' Woods said. ''I'm disgusted about the way he handled things. I had been planning to ask Elin to marry me for months and wanted to do it in a private, unique atmosphere.''

Gardiner, founder of the reserve, told Reuters he had gone to great lengths to protect the American golfer's privacy.

"His privacy was protected 100 percent," he said. "He had the lodge on his own with his party. We even moved guests that were in that lodge to give him total privacy."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.

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