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ALL TIGER, ALL THE TIME: Elin won't be at Masters; CBS won't tip-toe around Woods scandal; fans just want to see Tiger play golf

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

STOCKHOLM -- When Tiger Woods returns to golf at the Masters this week, his wife Elin won't be at his side.

The world has been watching to see if she would join him, and some women have been puzzled that the 30-year-old former model hasn't already left her cheating husband. She is, after all, from Sweden -- a nation famous for its strong-willed and independent women.

In her homeland, too, there has been some bewilderment that Elin Nordegren hasn't split considering the scope of her husband's infidelity.

But relationship counselors in the Scandinavian nation aren't that surprised. Sweden is still a champion of women's rights, but in recent years a more conservative view highlighting the merits of an intact family has been making a comeback.

Like Nordegren, many Swedes have grown up with divorced parents, and are increasingly focused on building homes and keeping their families together, said Lena Gustafsson, a psychotherapist who works in relationship counseling.

Woods and Nordegren have two children, a daughter Sam Alexis, 2, and a 1-year-old son, Charlie Axel.

"Many of the couples I see continue to live together, they solve their problems," Gustafsson said.

That was not the case for Nordegren's parents, who divorced before she started school and separately developed their careers.

Her father, Thomas Nordegren, became a correspondent for Swedish Radio and her mother, Barbro Holmberg, became a politician.

In Sweden, divorces peaked at around 27,000 annually in the mid-1970s, at the height of the women's liberation movement. Since then divorces have slowly declined to about 20,000 a year. Sweden's population is about 9 million.

Gustafsson said a gradual return toward the family as a cornerstone in Swedish society has come as a reaction to a culture that many people viewed as too obsessed with individual self-fulfillment.

However, repeated infidelity is not something that is taken lightly, even in Sweden. When Woods crashed his car into a fire hydrant in November and the extent of his extramarital affairs was revealed, the message in Swedish media and blogs was close to unanimous then and continue to be: Dump him.

Many Swedish commentators praised how Nordegren handled the situation, and more than one reference was made to how she smashed the back window of the car with a golf club.

The couple told investigators she did so to unlock a door and pull her husband out of the car, and Woods has strenuously denied his wife abused him. Still, the incident was seen here as a strong-willed Swedish woman standing up for herself.

"Our Swedish hearts are brimming with pride," Britta Svensson, a columnist for Swedish tabloid Expressen, wrote in December. "Our own Elin ... didn't take any (expletive). Just like a tough Swedish girl shouldn't. Elin is our heroine."

Elin met Woods when she was working as a nanny for Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik in 2001. Before that she worked briefly as a model, but reportedly was never very interested in making that her career. Instead, she was interested in psychology, and according to her father's Web page, she studied the subject as recently as last year.

Some of the toughest public criticism against Woods has come from Parnevik, who told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in December that he had "lost all respect for him, primarily as a man and a father."

Back then, the general perception in Sweden was that Nordegren should waste no time in leaving her husband. But Asa Hellberg, relationship coach and author of the autobiographical book "Casanova's Woman," has questioned whether Swedes were a bit too hasty in casting judgment.

"Generally, people probably have the view that she should have thrown him out a long time ago," she said. "But that is before they have experienced something like that themselves, and are blissfully unaware of how they would react in such a situation."

Hellberg -- who decided to stay with a boyfriend even after he revealed that he had cheated on her with 26 other women -- said reconciliation was possible if both partners seek help.

"If you take care of your own problems and scrutinize your own codependency, and the partner seeks help for his sexual addiction, then you can stay in the relationship," she said.

Gustafsson partly agrees, but says no one should stay in a relationship that is destructive.

Woods, who was being treated at a rehabilitation clinic for reasons he wouldn't disclose, returns to playing golf at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, on Thursday. He began his comeback with a 35-minute news conference on Monday, taking full blame for his personal failings and adding that Nordegren won't be joining him at Augusta.

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CBS WON'T SKIRT AROUND WOODS SCANDAL:

NEW YORK (AP) -- As Tiger Woods gave his first news conference since his life unraveled, CBS' sports chief promised not to pull any punches in talking about the golfer's sex scandal on the air during Masters coverage this weekend.

"Our job is to cover what happens in the golf tournament," Sean McManus, CBS News and Sports President, said Monday. "This year Tiger's story is a major factor in the golf tournament and we are going to cover it fully."

CBS anticipates some extraordinary ratings from curiosity seekers if Woods is still in contention during the weekend, particularly for the final round. The network televises the tournament on Saturday and Sunday, while ESPN has the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday.

McManus said he's given no instructions to his announcers on what they can or cannot say about Woods. Similarly, the Masters -- which has a contract with CBS to televise the annual tournament -- hasn't said anything to him about how it wants the issue to be addressed, he said.

"I don't think there is a whole lot of reporting that needs to be done on what has happened to Tiger since Thanksgiving evening," McManus said. "What the story is now is how he plays and how he reacts."

Similarly, CBS is interested in how the fans and other golfers react to Woods.

"We're also cognizant of the fact that right now the major story of the Masters this year is how Tiger performs," he said. "We don't know what the major story is going to be Saturday and Sunday."

That raises the point of what secretly must be CBS' worst nightmare: that Woods, who hasn't played competitively in five months, misses the cut.

Despite McManus' vow not to hold back on Woods, the network barely mentioned or showed the golfer in its promotional ads leading up to the Masters. Also, some comments by CBS colleagues raised questions about how much the scandal would come up.

"I don't anticipate doing anything differently than we did last year or at any other golf tournament that we do," CBS golf producer Lance Barrow said.

The networks' lead announcer, Jim Nantz, was asked about whether he had given thought to what and how much he would say regarding Woods and the scandal.

"I'm not there to do "Face the Nation,"' Nantz said. "I'm there to cover a golf tournament."

Woods' news conference at the Masters was televised live on some sports networks.

The road to his presentation was gradual. The golfer first apologized for carrying on a double life with multiple mistresses by reading a prepared statement on Feb. 19. He gave interviews last month to ESPN and The Golf Channel, but limited them to five minutes each, a restriction that led CBS to turn down Woods' offer to speak to one of its reporters.

It was a civilized affair, with a green-jacketed Masters official selecting the questioners and Woods addressing several of the sports reporters he knew by name. Woods, wearing a white cap with his initials and the wisp of a goatee, answered methodically.

He was specific about some issues -- drug use and his contact with a controversial Canadian doctor -- while continuing to be guarded about his personal life.

The nearly three dozen questions careened between his life and golf game.

"How did you fool so many people for so long?" one reporter asked.

"I fooled myself," Woods replied.

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