Lawton says agent knew of Woods affair

Updated: March 31, 2010, 7:36 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

A woman who said she had an affair with Tiger Woods claims that members of Woods' inner circle, including his agent, knew of the extramarital affairs that resulted in Woods missing four months on the PGA Tour and spending 45 days in a rehabilitation clinic.

In the April issue of Vanity Fair magazine, Mindy Lawton -- an Orlando, Fla.-area waitress -- said that Woods put her in touch with his agent, Mark Steinberg, when the National Enquirer learned of her affair with the golfer.

Woods said in interviews last week that people around him were unaware of the extramarital affairs that landed him in the tabloids.

"It was all me," he told the Golf Channel in a March 21 interview. "I'm the one who did it. I'm the one who acted the way I acted. No one knew what was going on when it was going on.

"I'm sure if more people would have known in my inner circle, they would have stopped it or tried to put a stop to it. But I kept it all to myself," he said.

According to Lawton, when she contacted Steinberg at Woods' request, Steinberg said, "We'll take care of it."

She told Vanity Fair: "That's when their brush-under-the-rug, the cover-up, happened." She was referring to a deal that the Enquirer allegedly made with Woods' handlers to hold the adultery story in exchange for Woods giving an exclusive interview to its sister publication, Men's Fitness.

A spokesperson for the National Enquirer denied to Vanity Fair that the publication held the Lawton story in exchange for an exclusive interview with Woods, who was on the cover of Men's Fitness in August 2007. A former Men's Fitness editor-in-chief told the New York Post in December that the cover story was in exchange for silence regarding any affairs.

Steinberg did not respond to requests for comment from Vanity Fair. ESPN has not received a comment from Steinberg.

Vanity Fair says it interviewed four women who claim to have had affairs with Woods.

Another reported mistress, Jamie Jungers, told Vanity Fair that Bryon Bell, a longtime friend of Woods and the president of Tiger Woods Design, would arrange travel for her to meet Woods. Vanity Fair said Bell did not respond to requests for comment.

Woods crashed his car into a fire hydrant outside his home in the early morning hours of Nov. 27, which unleashed a torrent of stories about his off-course life. He said he went to a rehabilitation clinic in late December for 45 days.

He is scheduled to return for the Masters, beginning April 8. He has not played competitive golf since a win at the Australian Masters in November.

He will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. ET Monday, which will be the first time he's taken questions from reporters, other than five-minute interviews with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi and The Golf Channel, both on March 21.