PONTE VEDRA BEACH (AFP) - Former US PGA Tour player Dan Olsen on Monday retracted a claim that Tiger Woods has been suspended for a month after Woods' agent and tour officials strongly denied the statement.
"I retract the entire interview. My comments were ill-advised. I want to apologize to Nike, the PGA Tour, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and (tour commissioner) Tim Finchem," Olsen said in a statement released by WFVN radio station based in Lansing, Michigan website.
Olsen, whose only full PGA season was in 2004, had earlier told WVFN that "I heard (Woods) is on a month's suspension," calling his source a "strong witness" and "credible." Olsen, a teaching pro who last played a US PGA event at the 2011 PGA Championship, compared Woods to noted US disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of seven Tour de France titles and admitted he took banned performance-enhancing substances.
Olsen also accused Woods, a 14-time major champion, of using illegal equipment.
But Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, called the accusations "absolutely, unequivocally and completely false" and PGA Tour vice president Ty Votaw denied Woods had been suspended.
"There is no truth whatsoever to these claims," Votaw said. "We can categorically deny these allegations." The PGA Tour tests balls and other equipment to ensure conformity with the rules of golf and has tested players for banned performance-enhancing drugs since 2008, with Woods among those subject to random testing.
The incident comes as former world number one Woods battles a major slump in form.
Woods announced on February 11 he would not return to competition until his game shows major improvement.
Woods, 39, struggled to a career-worst round of 82 and last-place finish at the Phoenix Open and a mid-round withdrawal at Torrey Pines with a bad back.
Woods is set to miss this week's World Golf Championships event in Doral, the first WGC he has failed to qualify for since the 2011 HSBC Champions.
The only event between now and next month's Masters that Woods has regularly played in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in two weeks.
Woods is a four-time winner of the Masters, the year's first major set for April 9-12 at Augusta National. He has never won the green jacket without first winning a tournament earlier in the same season.