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Woods tries to quell "Caddie-gate"

In a column written for his website, Tiger Woods attempted to quell speculation that he is preparing to fire his caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan.

"I'm taking a couple weeks off to rest and shoot commercials, and will return to the PGA Tour at Bay Hill. Maybe by then, 'Caddie-gate' will have subsided. People are making a big deal out of nothing," said Woods.

But while Woods downplayed the controversy, he did not end it with a ringing endorsement for Cowan, leaving the matter to be decided at the Bay Hill Invitational beginning March 18.

"People keep calling and bugging me about this issue, and it's really ticking me off. I'm not saying anything about it until Bay Hill. We'll just see what happens."

Cowan began caddying for Woods in 1996 while previous employer Peter Jacobsen recovered from a back injury. The duo clicked, and Cowan switched from Jacobsen to Woods.

Cowan provided the rookie valuable experience and advice, but after an apparent flap at the Nissan Open in which Woods seized the yardage book from Cowan, speculation began to spread.

"At the World Match Play, the media asked if Fluff would be caddying for me next month at the Masters," said Woods. "I replied, 'I'm not sure. Probably.'

"I stand by that statement."

Further speculation suggested that Woods was trying to acquire Dave Renwick. Renwick was on the bag for Vijay Singh at last year's PGA Championship and caddied for Steve Elkington when he won the PGA Championship in 1995 and José Maria Olazábal when he won the Masters in 1994.

This Woods unequivocally denied.

"Contrary to what some have reported, I haven't hired Dave Renwick away from Vijay Singh. I don't know where that came from and I feel sorry for V.J. It's simply not true."

TRW